Parliamentary Democracy and Representation of Women: A Comparative Analysis of Sri Lankan and Malaysian Stances
Mohammad Agus Yusoff, Athambawa Sarjoon, Shameer Othman
Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
Although both Sri Lanka and Malaysia have experienced a parliamentary democracy introduced by the British colonial ruler, there are disparities in terms of the representation of women in parliament. Democracy assures women's roles in politics, as well as their rights to represent in government apparatus, including parliament. However, the majority of democratic countries in the Global West have succeeded, while the majority of those in the Global South have failed in this regard. This
... research comparatively analyzes women's representation in parliament-the higher legislative and decision-making body-in Sri Lanka and Malaysia, both have strictly been following a democratic path in governance from their independence. The findings of the study reveal that the country-based different contextual factors have influenced women's roles in active politics, and their position in parliament representing the public as equally as that of men. This study is descriptive and interpretive in nature, and only secondary data were applied for the analyses of the nature of women's representation in parliament in both countries. 112 compared to countries that practice non-democratic and non-parliamentary systems of government. Although women were given voting rights, and constitutions allow them to be involved in politics as equally as their male counterparts, their representation in parliaments in both countries has not yet exceeded 10 percent. The puzzle of this comparative study is why Malaysia and Sri Lanka, in their regional settings, have not elected more women to represent national parliaments, though both countries have been strongly practicing parliamentary democracy, and both have similar ethnic and political contexts? This study attempts to examine the level of women's representation, and the factors that limit women representation in parliament, of both countries, on a comparative perspective. Studies of political activity and leadership development have generally tended to neglect women in many societies. Only in the last few years have such studies been undertaken in the field of political science. However, many studies conducted in the selected two countries were time limited and subject oriented. Most of them focused on the public political life and role of women, their roles in party politics, and the subjective matters that they represent in legislative bodies. On the contrary, the major objective of this study is to explore the nature and extent of women's representation in parliament in terms of number, and identify the key factors that impact the position of women's representation in parliament, of the two selected countries. The remainder of this paper is divided into four major parts, along with the conclusion. The following part reviews the nature of women's roles in parliament democracy, as well as their representation in parliament in general. The subsequent two parts review the nature of women in politics and their representation in parliament in the selected two countries: Sri Lanka and Malaysia. This review is followed by recommendations to improve women's representation in parliament. In this study, only the representative house, i.e. the upper house in Malaysia, and the central parliament in Sri Lanka, have been considered for analysis. This study is descriptive and interpretive in nature, and only the secondary data were used for the analyses of the nature of women's representation in parliament in both countries.